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You’ve Come a Long Way

Ten months ago when I had the privilege of taking the president’s chair of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, one of my goals was to encourage our members and readers to get more involved in the association. Now I would like to tell you a little story about a contractor who did just that.

In 1997, the owner of a small drywall contracting company decided to attend his first AWCI convention and trade show in New Orleans. He was only three years in the business and had an office in the basement of his home.

After finding the convention hotel fully booked, he and his wife registered at a quaint boutique hotel a taxi ride away. So far, so good. Visiting the trade show for the first time, they were overwhelmed by the size of the venue, the number of exhibit booths and the crowds. They started to feel a little out of place. When they attended some of the AWCI events they really started to feel out of place—and a little intimidated.

The contractor had been a member of the AWCI from his business start in 1994, so he was somewhat familiar with the association’s workings and a regular reader of AWCI’s Construction Dimensions. Now, here he was sitting in a committee meeting with people who he had read about—the “rock stars” (pun intended) of the drywall industry. A little star struck by his surroundings, he gathered the courage to introduce himself and quickly found welcoming responses. It seems that these “rock stars” were really everyday people just like him.

Fast forward 15 years and that small start-up drywall contractor today is writing this column. I would like to thank all of you “rock stars” who have helped me grow as a person, as a contractor and as an industry veteran. I truly value and appreciate your friendship, advice and support along the way.

Now I would like to issue a few challenges. To the “industry veterans,” let’s try to seek out, engage and even mentor first-time or newer convention-goers. And for those of you who are new, please come forth and introduce yourselves, tell us about your company. Don’t be afraid or intimidated of me. I am the big guy with the shaved head, beard and an attitude that is anything but intimidating. We are all here for the same reasons: to make ourselves and each other better. I look forward to seeing long-time friends and meeting a lot of new ones in Charlotte.

I would like to acknowledge and thank Mark Durso for the inspiration for this column. Thanks for reading and until next time, work hard, work safely, play hard and have fun.

In addition to being the 2011–2012 president of the Association of the Wall and Ceiling Industry, Wies is president of T.J. Wies Contracting, Inc. in Lake St. Louis, Mo.

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